"Emmo" began racing in Europe in 1969 in Formula Ford cars, and made a fairly quick ascention to F1, joining Lotus during the 1970 season. The team's #3 driver, he ended up becoming the team's #1 driver after teammate Jochen Rindt was killed at Monza, Rindt's crash inspired John Miles to leave as well. Thrust into the spotlight by leading F1's top team, he proved up to the task and won for Lotus in its first race post-Rindt.
In his first full year as Lotus' main man in 1971, Fittipaldi finished 6th in the driver's championship as the team experimented with a new chassis, the Lotus 72D. The equipment would prove to be unstoppable in 1972 as Emerson won 5 of 11 races and won the driver's championship over Jackie Stewart by 16 points. At 25 years of age he was the youngest champion in Formula 1 history. He appeared like he might do it again to start 1973 but after 3 wins in 4 attempts with the 72D, he began to struggle behind of the wheel of its new 72E that was unvailed in mid-year. It resulted in the opposite of the previous year, Stewart beating Emerson by 16 points this time.
The popular Fittipaldi left Lotus after that season and signed on with the highly promising McLaren team. Driving the highly efficient McLaren M23, he rode to 3 victories in 1974, reached the podium 4 other times, and beat out Clay Regazzoni in a close battle for his 2nd championship. The following season, he notched 2 more victories and again had 4 other podiums, but was 2nd to a dominant Niki Lauda. However, at the height of his F1 success, Fittipaldi shocked everyone by leaving McLaren to race for older brother Wilson Fittipaldi's Copersucar racing team.
Fittipaldi Racing was hardly a world class organization and the double champion regularly struggled, even failing to qualify for 3 races in his time there. Despite his struggles, he hung on with the team for 5 seasons, only managing a best finish of 2nd once.
After leaving F1 in 1980, Fittipaldi took some time out from major racing series for 4 years, returning in 1984 when he showed up in CART. The 38-year spent his first season getting acclimated to Indy Cars, driving for two other teams before joining Patrick Racing as an injury replacement. He would end up spending 5 years with the team, with 6 victories all told and solid finishes in the overall standings. 1989 would prove to be an even greater year, as he would win 5 times and finish in the top 5 in every race he didn't retire from, giving him a CART Championship. Among his wins was a simply dominant performance at the Indianapolis 500 which he led 158 of 200 laps and won by 2 laps.
Roger Penske hired Emmo for his racing team in 1990 and he continued to be among the top drivers in CART, winning a race with Penske for 6 straight years. In 1993, he would add a second Indy 500 victory, although the race was more well known for him breaking Indy tradition in celebraton, as he chose to drink a bottle of orange juice over the traditional bottle of milk in Victory Lane.
Despite pushing 50, he was still in IndyCars in 1996 when an injury in Michigan stopped his Indy career in its tracks. Fittipaldi didn't return to the race track after the injury but in 2003 made a return to Indy Cars as a team owner.